“The greatest calamity in the life of any oppressed nation is not to have failed to defeat tyranny and despotism, but to have failed to try.”
My views on the struggle of Iranian women for justice and equality are no secret. Like millions of others, I feel absolute shame and revulsion in the knowledge that the women of Iran have, by and large, had to struggle alone to break the legal and social chains with which the Islamic Republic has enslaved them. Whether peacefully protesting for equality under the law, or being viciously harassed about their sartorial choices as in the past few days, they have been the victims, in all too many cases, of extreme brutality meted out by government thugs. I have asked the rhetorical question in past articles, “Where have Iranian men been as our women have been abused?” From the responses I received, I’ve surmised that many of my countrymen would prefer if I stopped asking this question. While there are many who feel as I do that our women should be shielded as much as possible from acts of brutality by the regime, others would prefer to follow the ostrich’s example of putting their heads in the sand and pretending the problem doesn’t exist. Blissful ignorance of the situation facing our women is unacceptable and this is not our way. Iranian men through the millennia have been known for their courage, not their cowardice.
Just when one begins to think that things in Iran couldn’t possibly get any worse for the people living there, this regime comes up with something new. Is it any wonder that tens of thousands of young, educated Iranians seek to join the Diaspora every year? The list of reasons to give up on the country is almost endless: soaring inflation, widespread unemployment and underemployment, rampant drug addiction, an epidemic of prostitution, raging religious persecution, extensive state endorsed discrimination of ethnic minorities, unrestricted and unconcealed oppression of women, an explosion in the number of Aids cases, this state sponsored license to kill which was recently granted in a Supreme Court ruling which permits “the pious” to kill all those who don’t neatly fit into to the social rubric of Iran’s perfect Islamic Utopia without having to worry about facing pesky murder charges. Nazanin Kaviani’s poem, Plan B, which was dedicated to her friend, Fariba, speaks volumes of the disillusionment and despair that young Iranians feel toward life in our homeland.
The “bad hejab” crackdown that has been taking place in Tehran the past several days is just another in a never-ending series of outrages perpetrated by this God forsaken regime against our women. This time, however, I am hopeful that men will finally speak out about what is happening. The reason for hope is that it appears Iranian men are for the first time being targeted by the legions of rabid black crows and bearded thugs roaming the city in search of those whose attire doesn’t conform to the dark, drab and dreary sartorial strictures of the perfect Islamic Utopia.
Whether men take a more forceful stand on behalf of our women, it is clear that women have been the main targets, yet once more, of the regime. The savagery with which the women of Tehran, both young and old, have been treated is shocking. Black crow brigades have been harassing and arresting our sisters by the thousands. What we have been witnessing from afar is, in a word, SHAMEFUL.
Two nights ago, my mother and I sat watching a talk show on IRIB5, a local Tehran channel, which comes over our satellite. A high ranking Tehran police official was the guest and he spent an hour explaining the merits of the crackdown. He said that this is not so much a crackdown as a new policy of the government. He said that “they” were going to “clean” up the country even if it meant putting every woman in the nation in jail. He said that women, who showed their hair, their ankles, wore clothing deemed too tight, or wore make up deemed inappropriate were not the kinds of women that were fit to walk the streets of “our Islamic society” and that young men who wore short sleeved shirts or gel in their hair were just as bad. He said that the crackdown would never stop until every deviant element had been locked away, so that “decent Iranians” [fascist speak for Black Crows and Bearded Thugs] could walk down the streets without having share the same oxygen with such morally depraved filth. That policeman is just one of millions of regime sycophants that have been brainwashed into believing that any Iranian that doesn’t toe the party line, i.e. fully supports the regime’s policies and adheres to its agenda, isn’t fit to call Iran home.
Regime hardliners and sycophants view those of us who live abroad, and those inside Iran as filth unfit to be considered Iranian. In their eyes we are the enemy. Such people will never be reasoned with. They will never permit real reforms to take place that would accommodate all Iranians whether religious or secular and allow them to live in side by side in harmony. The logic of the Islamo-faucists is so twisted that there can be no compromise with them. All they will ever understand is that which have only understood these past three decades- the language of violence, brutality and intimidation. You can be sure that there are no Rodney King’s in the government of Iran. Neither, Mr. King’s famous words, “Can’t we all just get along,” nor the expression, “Live and let live,” are part of the Regime’s mentality.
Just two days ago, BBC reported that a high ranking member of the Majlis went on the record as saying that people who can’t adjust to and live by the regime’s Islamic rules should get out of the country because they aren’t real Iranians anyway. Haven’t enough of us left already!? If anymore young, educated and decent Iranians abandon the Nation, the only ones left one day will be the fanatics that are trying to steal, once and for all, our country from us.
At the rate Iranians have continued to emigrate from the country these past twenty-eight years, it is only a matter of time before signs will need to be posted throughout Iran saying, “Will the last good Iranian to leave, please turn off the lights.” People often say, “You can never go back home,” and this is surely true for all those who don’t make the effort. Our country has been hemorrhaging emigrants non-stop for twenty-eight years and it continues to do so. Now, there are two generations of Iranians that have been born outside Iran raised in a myriad or countries, learning a myriad of languages. It is now clear that the regime wants even more Iranians to leave. They want every Iranian who doesn’t agree with the Islamic system to leave and never come back or to die. Either way is fine with them. In a few more generations, our grandchildren and great-grandchildren born abroad will have little, if any of the love that each of us has for Iran. With each new generation born abroad the attachment to the adopted society grows stronger than the generation which preceded it while the attachment to our beloved homeland grows weaker and weaker.
Nothing has been achieved by millions of us [and I include my own mother, here] choosing life in the Diaspora to fighting to regain our country, and the sad truth is that nothing will be gained if anymore of our oppressed brothers and sister do as we have done, and leave. How many more Iranians must be born and raised in foreign countries -learning the customs and languages of other peoples instead of the customs and language of their own people. It won’t take many more generations before there is very little Iranian-ness left in the future generations of the Diaspora. Unless the thugs and despots who have brutalized our nation for so long are confronted head on, then Iran’s future looks bleak, indeed.
The regime’s black crows who this week have demonized our women by calling them filthy names because they don’t want to wear chadors have arrested thousands and sent many off to Evin Prison. There they can be beaten and possibly raped by the regime thugs so as to remind them their proper place in society! These fanatics are never going to stop harassing women, students, teachers, labor activists or any other segment of society which questions their rule. They think the country is theirs. They think that they are the only real Iranians! That’s why they brutalize everyone who objects to their rigidness.
It is well past time that people start fighting back. Trying to reason with this Islamo-faucist regime and its supporters is useless for the only language they seem to understand is the language of force! Instead of leaving the nation the Iranian people should start fighting back. These black crows need to know that if they harass an Iranian woman that they run the risk of catching a baseball bat in the side of the head. A well-swung ball bat to a crow’s head would be more than sufficient to insure that she never again cursed or harassed another Iranian lady. Just as one must crack a few eggs to whip up an omelet, Iranians are going to have to crack a few million fanatics’ heads to whip up a little justice and freedom for the Nation.
While those of us who have been born and raised outside of Iran have so much to be thankful for and so much to look forward to in life, we know that it is only by an act of fortuity that we have been spared the dark and desperate lives that so many of our cousins have known since 1979. Although we look like them and we speak the same language, our lives are so removed from their reality that we might as well be on a different planet. They struggle each and every day with problems that we can’t even begin to imagine. Life’s big issues for 20-something Iranians in North America, Australia, and Europe include having the best clothes and cars to show off to others, going to as many Persian music concerts each month as possible, getting into the best universities, so that our parents can brag to their friends about how accomplished we are.
Our peers’ lives in Iran are filled with so many words that end in the letters I-O-N that is impossible for us to fully comprehend what they must endure. We have had no comparable experiences in life to begin to equip us to comprehend the depth of their suffering and hopelessness. Words like, desolation, desperation, degradation, deprivation, coercion, humiliation, intimidation, corruption, oppression, repression, and suppression are just words in a dictionary to us, but to them, these words have are a painful and frightening reality of everyday life. Since the day they were born, these three little letters have condemned them to a life of misery which we have no clue of.
It is ironic that the young generation is more harshly victimized by this vile regime than many other segments of society, especially when one considers that they were never a party to its creation. Those who actively worked for the establishment of the Islamic Republic twenty-eight years ago, those who breathed life into its Constitution with their freely-given votes, and those who silently submitted to its creation are the one’s who agreed to abide by its laws. Those born after the revolution never agreed to anything.
The monstrosity called the Islamic Republic of Iran is the creation of the older generations. In all fairness, however, they could not have possibly known in 1979, just how ruinous their revolution would prove to be to themselves, to us, their future children and to our beautiful homeland. With open arms they welcomed what followed the Shah because as history has often shown Tyranny always first disguises itself as justice until it achieves complete power. Then, and only then, does it throw aside its mask revealing the true hideousness of its face to the people. This is as true in the case of the Islamic Revolution as it has been through time immemorial.
Shahla Azizi was right when she said that Iran is a nation in ruins and that Iranians have made the ruins themselves. Yet, despite all the reasons that exist for young people, especially young women, to want to flee Iran, there are still many people who could leave, but stay and persevere. Maybe the reason some remain has more to do with what they might face if they leave rather than what they must endure if they stay. Perhaps, the thought of having to learn a new language in a foreign land with an alien culture and strange customs is overwhelming to some. Perhaps, a general fear of the unknown holds others back. These people may find the thought of having to live at the mercy of the IRI is less terrifying than the thought of having to live at the mercy of “foreigners” in faraway lands. For them, the old adage, ‘the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t’ is a fundamental consideration.
Then, there are those who could quit the country, yet they stay and they do it for no other reason than their love for our homeland. Perhaps, these people have come to realize something about the ruins to which Ms. Azizi referred which those of us abroad haven’t yet grown to believe. Many, who stay, are not only passionate about Iran, but they are real patriots. In spite of their well-founded fear of the brutal government, they’ve decided that Iran is far more important than escaping their fear. These are truly courageous people. The essence of courage after all is not the absence of fear, but the determination that something else is more important than that fear. These wonderful people have come to understand that whatever ruins that the Islamic Republic has made of the nation; the Iranian people can surely un-make. Nothing is impossible for those who believe the deepest and most sincerely in something as precious as our homeland. During the past twenty-eight years Iran has lost so much, but as long as our people don’t lose the one thing that has always inspired oppressed people throughout the ages, our nation will find a way to throw off its shackles. That one thing is hope.
The IRI has waged a brutal campaign of bloodletting against the Iranian nation for three decades. It has sought to subjugate every segment of society through violence and intimidation. It has tried unsuccessfully to silence its critics through a never-ending campaign of terror which has seen far too many Iranian patriots pay dearly for doing nothing more than loving their country enough to speak out whenever they saw injustice. The filthy wretches who rule Iran have never understood that while it may be possible to silence individuals, it is impossible to silence the truth.
With every additional outrage the IRI commits against those whose only crime is to defend the meek and powerless in society and to speak out against injustice, it only brings its eventual, but certain demise closer at hand. This government’s reign of brutality and violence against our people could fill oceans with Iranian blood. If for no other reason, this alone has sealed the fate of the IRI. Nothing hastens the demise of tyranny faster than a martyr’s blood. When a tyrant dies his rule is over, but when a martyr dies his rule begins. We have had so many martyrs over these three decades that the IRI cannot alter or escape the future it has written for itself with the blood of our dear and precious countrymen. The blood of our nation has already begun to purge the Islamic Republic from the pages of history. Perhaps, our nation and our people will have to continue to endure oppression for a while longer, but the dye is cast and there is nothing that can stop what is inevitable; freedom, justice and liberty for all whose banner is green, white and red.
Those of us born into lives of comfort abroad will one day have to decide individually who we are and whom we want to be. Just as no man can serve two masters at the same time, we will not be able to live a hyphenated existence forever. Each and every one of us will have to choose whether we want our lives to be defined by the left side or the right side of our hyphenated identity, but make no mistake about it, no one will be able to be both, simultaneously. When the time comes that our brothers and sisters inside Iran ask us to ante up and kick in, we will each have to follow our own heart in deciding to hold on to what we have wherever we may live in the world, or to join them in the struggle for the liberation of our people. When the time comes that they need our help, each of us will have to decide individually if our lives abroad are more important than the life of our country. We will have to ask ourselves if our personal safety abroad is so important to us that we are willing to deny our children and their children the chance to live in a free Iran someday.
Maybe if our parents and millions like them had made different choices twenty-eight years ago, Iran would not be in the mess it’s in today. Hindsight always provides 20/20 vision, but now that we know just how devastating their generation’s mistake turned out to be, our generation must accept the responsibility to correct it. This is a duty that every generation owes to those who came before it and to those who come after it.
Correcting the immoral mistake called the Islamic Republic of Iran won’t be easy, for the Islamists already are well aware of how despised they are. They also know that they will pay dearly for their crimes should power slip from their grasps. They will never voluntarily relinquish power and they will never share power with more moderate elements. They will, however, be more than happy to turn the nation’s streets into rivers of blood should they deem such force necessary to keep the Iranian people under boot and lash. It won’t be easy taking back our country from such “true believing” and well-armed filth, but it can be done. Wresting the nation from their tightly clinched fists won’t be without sacrifice, but sacrifice is something our friends and family in Iran already know all too well. They can’t do it alone though. Liberating a nation that has been held hostage for so many years requires organization, manpower, money and the means with which to fight back. It will take all of us to destroy the might of our nation’s oppressor. Tyranny is always more powerful, more vicious and better organized than freedom in the beginning stages of a struggle. As history has always shown, however, Tyranny’s advantage is quickly swept away whenever and wherever those who resist it have hope, for hope is the well spring of courage. With hope and courage nothing is impossible for the Iranian nation and the Iranian people.
While hope and courage are indispensable ingredients in an effort to liberate any nation from despotism, the people must believe that they can overcome the tyrant’s power. This is why it is essential that our people stop leaving the country in droves, so that there is someone left to defeat them. We also need a charismatic leader step forward to inspire our people- to make all of us believe that Iran’s chains of bondage can really be broken. People of all nations need heroes and leaders that they can believe in, and we are no different. We need a leader who we can believe in and who can make us believe in ourselves and our invincibility. We need a leader who can unify us for as long as we remain divided we remain weak.
One would think that after this much time that such a leader would have already appeared before our people. Perhaps, destiny requires our people to suffer sufficiently before allowing them to taste freedom; so that they never again allow themselves to be duped into permitting despots to enslave our beloved homeland as has been the case for the past twenty-eight years.
Iran’s savior is out there somewhere and in time we will all come to know his name. Whether he finally comes in the form of a Monarchist or a Republican is a matter for the Iranian people to decide. Once he steps to the fore and endears himself to our freedom-starved people, Iran’s long dark nightmare will be over. Destiny, however, will not be rushed. In the meantime, all we can do is pray that the wait won’t be much longer. When the Nation finally embraces him, all those who have supported and collaborated with this brutal regime against our people will be finished.